Trachelospermum Jasminoides is a very complex name for the simple but beautiful star jasmine. Despite the name, it is not a member of the Jasminum genus. The popular evergreen climber is related to the dogbanes such as Catharanthus, frangipani, mandevilla and carissa. While it may be classed as a climber, it is a very versatile plant which is suited to most soils and positions.
It will grow in the United States garden zones of 8 to 10. These encompass the Confederate States and have led to the star jasmine often being cited as the Confederate jasmine. There is a story is Uzbekistan that the plant shows the way forward to traders but only to those of good character. In those parts, it is known as the Trader’s Compass.
The plant is native to Asian countries such as India, China, Korea and Japan. However it is a firm favorite with gardeners around the world and is to be found in private and public parks and gardens. The foliage is dark green and glossy; the abundant flowers are star-shaped and pure white while the fragrance is heady and strong. Flowering is from summer through to autumn.
The flowers are about two centimeters in diameter and consist of five petals. Once it is established it will spread and climb to a height of about nine meters. If it tends to spread too far, it can be pruned back after the flowers have finished. It can also be tidied up whenever it becomes too straggly. Whether in shaded areas or full sun, it is generally covered in flowers.
If you have a stark wall, unsightly tree trunks or sheds, the star jasmine will turn an eyesore into a thing of beauty. It will perform a range of functions from being a groundcover to acting as a spill-over plant. It is useful as a hedge and can be trimmed even more to form a garden border. It is a good topiary plant when grown over a wire frames and clipped to shape. Its strong fragrance enhances veranda and pergola areas.
It can be grown in containers and indoors. If the weather is too cold for it to survive outside, it will thrive in a greenhouse. With some exposure to sun during winter months, it will bear plenty of scented flowers from summer through to autumn.
Well-drained soils are preferred. They need some organic material but otherwise can be grown in all types of soil from sand to loam and even clay. They are somewhat susceptible to frost. Although they need some water for their first season or two, they are then reasonably drought tolerant. There are several cultivars. These seem to be rather slow-growing and not as vigorous as the parent plant. Tricolor is popular with gardeners and has pink hues on new growth. Variegatum is another cultivar which has white margins on the leaves. There is also a variety with a creamy-white leaf.
Apart from its beauty and scent as a garden plant, the flowers of Trachelospermum Jasminoides are tapped for oil which is used in high-quality perfumes. Incense is another by-product of the star jasmine. Homeopathic practitioners use the plant to treat disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis. Bast fiber is made from the stems and used to produce rope, textiles, paper, burlap, sacking and carpet.